The Bunn (a.k.a. Scott Sokoloski) is a stoked dude from Canada who makes low-tuned, heavy music despite wearing guitars incredibly high, with very short straps.
After a life of touring and gigging throughout North America in bands, The Bunn started producing his own music, back around 2010. Super-low tuned stuff. Not djent though, and not with 7 or 8 string guitars. The tunes are a post-sludge/ doom kind of thing and with extra long-scale, 6 string baritone guitars.
Besides creating and producing material for Foreigns, Wetlands, & Venns, “The Bunn” is forever busy sharing production and practical techniques in working with super-low tuning and getting music done on his YouTube Channel.
Guitarist, producer, sound engineer and Solar Guitars Artist, Nick Hill runs his YouTube Channel focuses on mixing, metal, and tones. There, he shows how to create modern metal guitar tones, mix, master, and learn the process of music production.
He operates on Spotify both a solo artist and as part of a project called The Partisan Component with Jeff Plewa, an amazing metal vocalist.
Gary Hiebner is a South African guitarist, music producer, content creator, and YouTuber. He started off as a guitarist in the South African music scene in the early 2000’s and from there gathered an interest in music production.
Through learning the different software audio applications available Gary developed a keen interest in music tuition and for the last 8 years he has been creating and providing music tutorials courses on many of the audio DAWs, plugins and effects available on different teaching platforms.
Currently he is a course creator at Groove3 and he also runs a YouTube Channel (Heavy Tones) where it focuses on heavy, low tuned guitars productions and how to get the most out of your heavy low tuned guitars… from dialing in a killer tone for low tuned guitars all the way to guitars setups for low tuned guitars.
Because of their depth of work and respect in the extended range guitar online community on YouTube, PreSonus was so fortunate to have these three gentlemen so graciously and enthusiastically help out with creating most of the Presets (and sound examples on our website) for the recent PreSonus Ampire High Density software add-on pack that was just released. Thank you so much for your time and effort guys!
Let’s get to know them a bit better and how their workflow history intersects with PreSonus hardware and software.
PreSonus: How did you discover Studio One?
GH: I started off working in ProTools probably in about 2004, and then moved over to Logic in about 2006 and used that for a good couple of years. But around 2012 I started using Studio One alongside Logic. But I found myself preferring the workflow of Studio One. The interface is smoother and cleaner and with the new updates they have really been adding some great features that help my workflow.
TB: Initially through owning PreSonus hardware (since the FirePod and FireStudio, currently STILL using an AudioBox22 VSL which has been super solid for the last 5 years!). Bundled with the interface was an “Artist” version of Studio One. I’ve really taken to it in recent years (Studio One Pro) since connecting and collaborating with fellow YouTuber, Nick Hill. Nick is a veteran Studio One user and a great mixer. In our musical collaborations everything happens in twin setups of Studio One so that Nick can seamlessly go to the mix stage.
NH: I was definitely a little late to the Studio One party. I recall my early days of audio recording exploration, this would have been the early 00’s, using early versions of DAWs like Digital Orchestrator Pro and then moving into Reaper thinking THAT jump was massive. I tried various other offerings and my best friend Lenny had discovered this DAW called Studio One. At this point, it may have been toward the end of Version 2’s life cycle but we jumped in headfirst and the rest, as they say, is history.
PreSonus: If you explored Ampire in previous versions of Studio One, what are your thoughts on it now versus then?
TB: I started to pay attention to Ampire in Version 4, of particular interest was the “Double”. I’m a huge fan of Rectifiers and needed to try it. The amp itself sounded pretty great, however Ampire as a environment was missing some key functionality and features in order to make it part of my regular routine.
NH: I remember trying early iterations of Ampire and thought, “oh this is neat, but I won’t really use it.” The personal workflow I’ve developed and grown to feel most comfortable with has been hardware or externally based ie audio interface, using mics, capturing real sounds/amps/acoustic instruments, and then on to using hardware like the Line 6 Helix but as Ampire improved, I found myself using it for various mixing and layering tasks, adding in some melody lines, ambient guitar parts and overall “ear-candy” to some of my mixes and projects.
GH: In the beginning, like in version 2 where I started, Ampire was very basic. I was jumping for other Amp sim plugins to get the tone I was after. But I only really started exploring Ampire again with the new State Space Modelling. The Amps sound sooooo much better now. More realistic on getting that sound that you hear from a real amp. Where it sort of sounds like you can feel the air pushing out the speaker. So yeah the new version of Ampire has really come leaps and bounds from the earlier versions.
PreSonus: What do you think about the 3 new amp models in the Ampire High Density add-on pack?
NH: Having had some time to play with the new High Density stuff, It’s safe to say that these newly modeled amps stack up against some of the big-name, 3rd party offerings.
GH: I love all the new amps. Obviously I am more inclined towards amps catering towards high gain. So these new amps are exactly the tones I’m looking for. My favorite being the German sounding Gasoline EMC2. I’m a big fan of the brand it’s being modelled after, so yeah you guys really nailed it with that amp model.
TB: The new amps and cabs sound really good offering a satisfying level of feel and spirit as in the real-life hardware. Both the new drive pedals, the Wild Drive and Demolition Drive really help to shape, tighten, and add dimension to the amps. The new Space Reverb is a very nice addition that I could easily use in a number of different scenarios. Very soft and organic vibes.
PreSonus: How easy was it for you to dive in and start coming up with presets?
GH: Yeah, I could jump in straight away and build up presets quite easily. I’m not into building up big huge chains of amps and pedals. I like to keep the chain quite simple. So with the interface it was easy for me to dial up the sounds I was after. Sometimes just an amp head, speaker cabinet, gate, overdrive and EQ. That’s it.
TB: Ampire, for me, needed no instruction. I just opened it and started using it. Maybe the only thing I got tripped up on was looking for features that I expected that do not exist. Hahaaa!
NH: I wish that I could say I labored for hours and hours over the process but the fact of the matter is, I spent more time jamming on my presets and making the final 1-2% finishing touches than I did creating the actual tones. The new High-Density Amps are straight up, easy to work with and I think users will see that.
PreSonus: What’s the best feature you like about Studio One?
TB: That you don’t need any 3rd party plugins other than perhaps a virtual acoustic drum suite (if you don’t work with a drummer) to produce finished, commercially viable tracks. Typically I need 3rd party dynamics, EQ’s and spatial effects to actually make a track. Studio One closes that gap, especially with the addition of Ampire. The only similarly competing platform in this way would be Logic.
NH: Having used Studio One for years now, I’ve grown to love so much about this DAW. It seems to get out of my way and lets me create but the coolest or the best thing about it speaks to PreSonus as a whole and that is their willingness to work WITH the artists, producers, mix engineers, and musicians who use it. They take feedback, suggestions, and input from the community and continually try to make Studio One better with every update. It won’t always be a perfect process and pleasing everyone is a fool’s errand, but they get marks for trying in my book.
GH: I really like the Pitch Shift pedal effect. I have been through some of the other pitch shifting emulations around and a lot of them suffer from adding too many artifacts when the sound is transformed up and down. But this one works great. I really like the sound and use of it.
PreSonus: What are your thoughts on 2020?
NH: What can I say about 2020 that hasn’t already been said? It’s been rough and scary but with challenge comes growth. I focused on making my community a positive place, a creative place, and a sort of escape from the world and the at times, overwhelming negativity. Not as a way to put on blinders, but as a coping mechanism. I’ll tell you one thing, it’s given me much more appreciation for all of the things we all seem to take for granted when life isn’t on its head, that’s for sure.
GH: 2020 has been a strange year, I’m sure for all. With the whole pandemic and lockdown restrictions. Luckily for me I work from home, and don’t do much gigging and performing outside of the studio anymore. So I haven’t been affected too much in that way like many others have.
But it’s been a great year for guitars. There’s been some great releases focused towards guitarists. And I have been spending more time this year than ever dialing in the tones I want for my guitars and fine tuning them to a level where I finally like the productions I’m getting. So if anything 2020 has been a year for me to dive deeper into my guitar productions.
From my side in the future I’m going to be focusing more on Studio One tutorials courses across the platforms I use. And working hard at my Heavy Tones guitar YouTube channel as am having a lot of fun with that and it seems to be growing nicely. So if you haven’t seen my channel yet I would highly appreciate you stopping by, watching a video or two and leaving your thoughts on what you think.
TB: It’s an interesting, transitional period for music production. Pro audio and bedroom producer spaces are melding into the same space. I think that the trends going forward are going to be software that runs really light, ultra clean and simple GUIs that go away from trying to look like in real life, and software that makes global collaboration accessible and easy.
With Studio One and Ampire specifically I would like to see the gate, smoothed out and further developed (the Fortin Zuul is an incredible gate if you need inspiration). As well, it would be nice to see the cab shaping tools expanded so as to be able to launch a single instance from the inserts that offers a fully refined tone without the need for any additional inserts in the FX rack. This is the big reason that I favour the Helix platform, (and previously BiasFX) and also why I don’t use Neural DSP or STL plugins. I want a single instance that sounds awesome, needs no additional plugins, runs light on my system, and gets out of my way so that I can focus on playing and being creative. Additionally I’d like to see a clean GUI without IRL graphics. Much of Studio One is leaning already in this direction, it would be nice to see it go all the way!
Overall, I really like the single platform for creators approach of Studio One. Just needs a killer acoustic drum suite. No other cross-platform DAW offers such a comprehensive list of pro level tools. And the cross platform thing (Mac/PC) is huge.
We hope that you have enjoyed this round-table discussion by 3 of the most down-to-earth and formidable extended range guitar players online who took the time out to share their personal thoughts here with us.
Visit their YouTube Channels:
A physical guitar amp is more than a box with a speaker—it’s a box with a speaker being picked up by a mic in a room. Both the mic and room contribute to the overall sound. To better emulate the sound of a physical guitar amp, Ampire includes a Mic Edit Controls panel that allows making a variety of virtual mic adjustments.
Ampire doesn’t include room emulation, because you can emulate room sound with several of Studio One’s plug-ins—Room Reverb, Open Air Reverb, Mixverb, and Analog Delay. However, it’s best to avoid adding ambiance until most other tracks have been cut, so that the ambiance achieves the right balance. Too much ambiance can clutter the mix, or hog the stereo field.
The mics you choose, their levels with respect to each other, and whether you add delay can make a major difference in your amp’s sound. So, let’s investigate the Mic Edit Controls panel (Fig. 1).
Choosing the Mic Type
Many guitarists record with their amp cranked to really high levels, to get their “sound.” Dynamic mics are ideal because they can handle high levels, and the inexpensive Shure SM57 is the classic guitar cabinet mic—many engineers choose it even when cost is no object. Although dynamic mics may lack brightness compared to condenser mics (as modeled by Mic C), this doesn’t matter much with amp cabinets, which typically don’t have much energy above 5 kHz or so anyway. Mic A in the Mic Edit Controls panel has the SM57’s sonic character, and will likely be your go-to mic.
Mic B produces the sound associated with ribbon mics, which shows one of Ampire’s benefits: older ribbon mics tended to be fragile—but you can’t blow up a virtual mic. Ribbon mics have an inherently warm midrange. Royer’s R-121 mic is popular for miking cabs, and Mic B models its overall sonic character.
Mic C emulates the PreSonus PM-2 matched pair of condenser microphones. Condenser mics are often too sensitive for close-miking loud amps, but when moved a bit back from the cab, they can give a brighter, more “open” response that handles note attacks well. They’re also commonly used as room mics, which is why these two virtual mics are arranged in an X-Y miking configuration to give a stereo image.
Wait a Minute—Did You Say Stereo?
Guitars are mono signal sources, but taking full advantage of Ampire’s mics, as well as room ambiance plug-ins, requires a stereo signal. To convert the mono guitar into a dual mono signal (i.e., stereo, but with the same audio in the left and right channels), record the guitar with the Channel Mode set to Mono (one circle showing to the right of the Record Input selector). Although this means that any plug-ins will be in mono, that’s acceptable when tracking. After recording the track, change the Channel Mode to stereo (i.e., two circles showing to the right of the Record Input selector), select the event, and bounce it to itself (ctrl+B). Now the mono guitar is dual mono.
Mic Control Applications
Each mic has three controls: level, mute button (which makes it easy to evaluate what a particular mic contributes to the overall sound), and phase switch (the Ø button). Also, Mics B and C have Delay controls.
Often when miking a physical amp with more than one mic, you’ll vary their blend to find the right mix. The Mic Mix Link button toward the extreme left simplifies this process. When enabled, altering one mic’s level adjusts the levels of the other mics oppositely. For example, turning up Mic A turns down Mics B and C, or turning up Mic B turns down Mics A and C.
The Phase buttons and Delay controls can make major differences in the overall sound. There’s no right or wrong phase or delay setting; use whatever sounds best to you. Try the following to hear how these controls affect the sound. (Bear in mind that amp sims do a lot of calculations, so moving the controls will sound “choppy.” This is because Ampire has to recalculate constantly to reflect the changing settings.)
Now check out how Mic C creates a stereo spread. With Mic Mix Link off, adjust Mic A and/or Mic B for the desired sound. Bring up Mic C’s Level control slowly, and you’ll hear the stereo image bloom. Again, the Delay control and Phase reverse button make a big difference in the sound.
Clean Sounds, Too
One of my favorite mic applications is with clean guitar sounds (cabinet only, no amp). Mic C is particularly useful, because its brightness gives the cabinet’s tone a useful lift, and creates a stereo image. Finally, note that if you change the Channel Mode from mono to stereo (or the reverse), the sound may mute. Varying one of the Mic level controls restores the sound. Of course, it’s easy enough to call up an Ampire preset, and just start playing… but becoming proficient with the Mic Edit Controls opens up a wealth of possibilities.
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A Sweeter, Beefier Ampire
Let’s transform Ampire’s Crunch American from a motor scooter into a Harley. Here’s our point of departure:
Insert the Multiband Dynamics before Ampire. The default patch is fine, but drag the High Mid and High gain and ratio settings down all the way. The goal here is to add a bit of compression to give more even distortion in the mids and lower mids but also, to get rid of high frequencies that, when distorted, create harsh harmonics.
After Ampire, insert the Pro EQ. The steep notch around 8 kHz gets rid of the whistling sound you’ll really notice in the before-and-after audio example, while the high-frequency shelf adds brightness to offset the reduced high frequencies going into Ampire. But this time, we’re increasing the “good,” post-distortion high frequencies instead of the nasty pre-distortion ones.
Those two processors alone make a big difference, but let’s face it—people don’t listen to an amp with their ear a couple inches from the speaker, but in a room. So, let’s create a room and give the sound a stereo image with the Open Air convolution reverb. I’ve loaded one of my custom, synthetic IR responses; these are my go-to impulses for pretty much everything I do involving convolution reverb, and may be available in the PreSonus shop someday. Meanwhile, feel free to use your own favorite impulses.
Of course, you can take this concept a lot further with the Channel Editor if you want to tweak specific parameters to optimize the sound for your particular playing style, choice of pickups, pickup type, and the like…hmmm, seems like that might be a good topic for a future tip.
That’s it! Now all that’s left is to compare the before and after example below. Hopefully you’ll agree that the “after” is a lot more like a Harley than a motor scooter.